I know this is a cliche, but bear with me. Start with the Hardy Boys. Or at least with the can do, gee whiz, boy detective vibe. Now put that in 1908 England. Amp up the violence a little by introducing a few bodies, poison and gunplay. Make the plot more twisty and turny than just smugglers hiding in a cave.
Then, add an earnest young reporter/detective with a sincere narrative style, a bit of a romantic streak, a droll sense of humor and an inclination toward deadpan descriptions.
This is a stock sort of character, but there is a good reason why this character keeps popping up. He is the enduring embodiment of adventure, excitement, danger!, action and derring-do. And, everything is improved when you add a romantic interest in the form of a girl with spirit and twinkling eyes, and a pal with a revolver. Once you sprinkle in a range of secondary characters who you may trust, or perhaps not, and a shady society of villains, you're set.
The last piece of the puzzle is the author. Does he have the skill to keep this mix moving forward, to keep all the balls in the air, and to keep you interested in and rooting for the hero. The answer here is "yes". Mr. Hollands doesn't get cute and he doesn't reach too far. This is action/adventure and he keeps the wheels turning with writing that doesn't fail, and that is complimented by some nice touches and sharp observations that elevate the work beyond mere pulp, (not that I'm faulting mere pulp).
This is pure unadulterated entertainment and it works. There's no magic or fantasy; this is old fashioned action. But sometimes that's what you want, and for a tween or young YA reader this could be just right.
Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Sparkling Books Ltd (3 June 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1907230440
- ISBN-13: 978-1907230448
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 204 g
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